OF THE $126 million raised by the mining tax in its first six months, BHP Billiton paid $77 million, or 61 per cent, of it in a single instalment in January.
Outgoing BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers defended the low payment on Wednesday, saying the minerals resource rent tax was raising revenue as it was designed to do. "There is no doubt that the MRRT will result over time in us paying higher royalties and taxes than we paid before it was passed. Absolutely no doubt," he said.
"It's how the design is. It is a design that overlaps exactly with the original Ken Henry proposals, in that it is counter-cyclical. When exchange rates are high, and prices are low, it goes down. When exchange rates are low, and prices are high, it goes up. We'll pay more over a cycle. But gosh, to measure that over one six-month period and declare it one way or the other, that's probably not a call that I'm brave enough to make."
BHP said it paid $US6.1 billion in taxes and royalties for the half year - including $4.8 billion in Australia - representing an effective tax rate of 38 per cent.
Chairman Jac Nasser said Australia needed to remain a competitive destination for investment and following the introduction of the mining tax the country was "at the top end worldwide".
"There is no shortage of great ore bodies around the world," Mr Nasser said. "Many times when I read the comments of late, I start to imagine we're not paying any tax at all.
"We paid $US11 billion around the world last year and $9 billion of that was in taxes and royalties in Australia. That's an awful lot of money, even for a company the size of BHP Billiton."